Wilhelmus A' Brakel and the Duty of the Civil Magistrate

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Nov 10, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    [IMGL]http://www.gezinsgids.nl/data/foto/15_februari_2007/Brakel.jpg[/IMGL]From Vol. 2, Chapter 29, page 179:

    “It is the duty of the civil government to uphold not only the second table of the law, but also the first. It must see to it that God is honored. It may not tolerate any idolatry, worship of images, or any false religion within her jurisdiction, but must rather eradicate these. It must prevent the vain use of God’s Name practiced by cursing, swearing, and blasphemy. It must prevent the desecration of the Sabbath, punish violators of this commandment, and see to it that the gospel is proclaimed everywhere within its jurisdiction. It must see to it that the church as the darling of the Lord Jesus is protected and preserved and that neither internal dissension no any external oppression disturb or destroy the church, but that instead she be safely preserved in the use of the privileges and liberties which her King Jesus has given her.”

    See page 178-180 for A’Brakel’s treatment of “The Responsibility of the Civil Government with Regard to the Church”.

    Buy the 4-Volumes here.
  2. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not being familiar with the works of the man, suffice it too say he would not be a proponent of contemporary Two Kingdom theology as promulgated by the fellows at Westminster Seminary CA?
  3. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    ...And David Dickson:

    From Truth's Victory Over Error-- Chapter XX
  4. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm confused. Are Y'all suggesting official state religion?
  5. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    What he said.
  6. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well that's fine, so short answer then, do you wish to see the 1st Amendment repealed?
  7. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Agreed but let us be pragmatic. Was Reverend Brakel calling for a theoretical Christian Magistrate or an actual enforcer of orthodox doctrine? Within the reformed tradition, there are divergent interpretations of scripture, e.g. two Kingdom theology. Would we want a Minister of Religion or the Secretary of Religion to enforce doctrinal interpretation and to define the manner of our worship? What if that Minister was Joel Osteen one year and Michael Horton the next? Apart from our Lord as our King, could we expect anything other than some Saul like manifestation on this side of glory?
  8. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    The requirement to uphold both tables of the Law falls upon all Magistrates, as all are ministers of God. This does not require, or even suggest, that one Super-Magistrate would have an exclusive claim to that role (which, in my opinion, would be a rotten idea).
  9. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    What would this look like within the framework of US constitutional law for example? Would each state appoint Magistrates to enforce that states perception of the Judicial law? How would one avoid the tyranny that drove the pilgrims from England in the first place?
  10. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    Departing from my Baptist roots, I agree with the WCF. Too bad the LBCF doesn't have a chapter on the Civil Magistrate. I personally think that if I was in a place of authority in government, I would feel obligated to uphold the Law because it is ingrained in who I am. I don't see how in my personal life I would fight for it but in a public position I would not. I have had many a disagreement with fellow Baptists on this subject. Doesn't matter really, because if I ran for any office, I would say this up front and would get 0 votes.
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I don't believe the First Amendment was ever intended to separate Christianity from our Nation's Capitol. It was intended to stop the state from sponsoring one denomination to the suppression of others. The State religion was Anglicanism. Presbyterians and others were heavily suppressed and only tolerated during the Kings reign. The state also paid for the debts of the Anglican Church with its taxation. If a Presbyterian or Baptist congregation wanted to have civil recognition and a presence they had to apply for it through the State. Most were heavily suppressed. If I am not mistaken, Patrick Henry was one of the champions of the First Amendment for this reason. It was never intended to separate the states responsibility to uphold God's law if I understand my history correctly.
  12. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Why can't I stop thinking Inquistion when I think state religion?
  13. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that there is no connection between a magistrate faithfully and consistently upholding the First Table of the Law and "the tyranny that drove the pilgrims from England in the first place."

    We have a "state religion" now and England had a "state religion" then, but neither practice anything like what I see the good men above suggesting.
  14. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well then, not many saw the Spanish Inquistion coming either. By way of example, can you point to some good examples of the civil magistrates upholding state religion? Lastly, does the WCF infer upholding the essence of the Commandments, general equity etc. or does this civil magisterial enforcer seek a return to the Judicial law of Moses?
  15. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    In moving from the Pilgrims in England to the Spanish Inquisition, we are going further away from what is being proposed, not closer to it. Is the Taliban our next objection?

    To answer that question, it would be helpful if you would define what you mean by "state religion." I don't see that any others here have used or condoned that term and am uncertain as to what you mean.

    I've nothing to add to Joshua's post.
  16. seajayrice

    seajayrice Puritan Board Sophomore

    Were that magistrate to decree Mosaic punishment he must also apply Mosaic judicial process. Could that be done outside the Theocracy?

    ---------- Post added at 03:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:28 PM ----------

    State Religion would be the States recognition and preference for one particular religion or denomination over all others, much like England in the time of the monarchs.
  17. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Is it possible that A' Brakel was writing for the time and place that he ministered, just as the Westminster Divines (don't forget that the assembly was originally called to write a consensus document for the Church of England which had a king as its divine protector.)

    I believe the Vos theologians would be considered spiritual descendants of A' Brakel. Geerhardus Vos, in an article titled The Eschatology of the Psalter wrote:
  18. Puritan Scot

    Puritan Scot Puritan Board Freshman

    For anyone with access to The Works of George Swinnock - Volume 4 pages 147-299 B.O.T. there is an excellent exposition on Psalm 82 entitled The Beauty of the Magistracy
    Let us pray for our magistrates and acknowledged that God hath ordained them unto that solemn office. Great is their accountability unto Him in the several administration of their duties How they should tremble in His presence in our evil days for God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among gods Psalm 82v1
  19. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    My desire, and my prayer, is that godly civil magistrates uphold the First Table of the Law. It is not that they would implement a "state religion" that establishes a particular denomination.

    As far as the other questions:

    --As to how this would work in a constitutional Republic, such as our own, we only need to note that the Law was presented in tables of stone to a Republic with representative government (see Exodus 18). So there's no conflict there.

    --As to the question of how to avoid the potential of turning men into tyrants by having them uphold God's Law-- it's kind of like asking how to avoid the prospect of turning men into Jack Kevorkians by teaching them to do CPR. It's the Law of perfect freedom. There's nothing tyrannical about it.
  20. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    You can have successful establishments of the Protestant Reformed religion without the killing, torture, and persecution of breakers of the First and Second Commandments, as we had in Scotland, and England and Wales, for many years.

    Where the true religion is in the ascendency, e.g. Islam (First commandment) or Roman Catholicism (Second Commandment) would wither on the vine, and e.g. Muslims and Roman Catholics could be denied access to the country and to prominent public positions.

    The Christian state isn't bound by the Mosaic penalties which were tailored for a Church under age i.e. a childhood Church. Where there was no animal sacrifice for sin, as was the case with all the grossest breaches of the 10C, it was appropriate that the offender be executed to teach the people by shadow and type about God's wrath against sin.

    Quote from Timothy
    An establishment of religion need not be a particular denomination, as it was/is in Scotland and England, but all those denominations that can agree to a particular confession. This confession could be broadly Reformed or more broadly evangelical.

    Not quite. God was King of Israel, while there was no earthly king. Israel was always a Monarchy, but Israel was the Old Covenant Church and People whose direct descendant is not the New Covenant State, but the New Covenant Church and People.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page